For Grace and Tim Hobson, the Blue Mountains embody stories of love: their love for each other, the craft of photography, the place itself, and for the couples whose weddings they photograph. “This place just gives you everything. We love the area, and our clients mostly come up here specifically to get married, because of the landscape,” says Grace.
The couple met in Sydney. Tim had long held a passion for photography, drawn as he was to the technical aspects of the craft. During his time studying at TAFE, he met Grace and she quickly saw photography as the perfect opportunity to combine her love of art with a vocation. Their two complementary sensibilities now give their mountains based studio, Willow & Co, its winning combination of precision and poetry.
Often visiting the Blue Mountains on weekend trips, Grace and Tim were charmed by the dramatic scenery and laid back community, so much so that they moved to Katoomba in 2011. “You just want to be part of it. Even just driving over the hill from our place to the supermarket and seeing the world open up – it’s just so incredible, especially with a little fog. It’s always changing too,” says Tim.
While places like The Three Sisters, where people visit from all over the world, have an obvious appeal Grace and Tim embrace the opportunity to explore the wild beauty a little further afield. “We’re always looking for new locations, and going on bushwalks. The place changes so often too, so it’s about staying in touch with that, and also finding great small spots in places you wouldn’t think to look in if you weren’t living here,” says Tim.
Living on the boundary of the Blue Mountains National Park has been a distinct professional advantage for Grace and Tim as it is a popular romantic destination for weddings. Grace explains: “when people travel up they want the full experience of what the mountains has to offer”. Willow & Co’s clients generally share a similar ideology and aesthetic, so it is not uncommon for Grace and Tim to take brides “walking through the wilderness”, traversing rocks, trees, and mountains to get the perfect shot. It is clear from their soft panoramic photos that take in as much of the topography and vegetation as possible, that Grace and Tim share their love of the natural beauty with their clients.
A key component to maintaining Willow & Co has been through the variety of channels the internet provides to connect with people outside of the mountains. Grace explains that much of their business “largely comes down to SEO and social media. We blog and share our photos online, and we try to make sure we’re on the first page in Google. Social media is really important. We post a combination of lifestyle photos, wedding photos, and landscape photos and I think people outside the mountains just love to get a glimpse of what’s happening here. The couples that we shoot just love it and I think are quite envious of us living here.”
In addition to what the region offers in terms of work, both Grace and Tim are quick to point out that the laid back lifestyle and the generous community is heartening. Grace notes that Katoomba provides a place to relax and recharge: “We’re at a wedding almost every weekend for work, so it’s nice to be in a quiet place like that where you can really enjoy some downtime. We’re homebodies, but we really love going for walks, going to cafes. I think it would be great for people to become more aware of what’s here in terms of food and culture.”
Tim agrees: “With the work we do and our lifestyle, it would be so much harder for us if we were in Sydney. We know that we’re lucky here.”
MORE: Willow & Co on MTNS MADE
Words by Chloe Killen. Photography by Ona Janzen.